Greater Greater Washington

M Street cycle track keeps improving, draws church anger

Last night, DDOT representatives held a short presentation on the latest design for the M Street cycle track. They have improved the design further since we last saw it. Meanwhile, angry opponents of the cycle track, including members of a nearby church which may lose some on-street parking, dominated the question and answer period.


Photos by the author showing DDOT materials.

During the presentation, DDOT tried to explain the reasoning for the cycle track, how it would work and how it would benefit people. Jim Sebastian, Mike Goodno and Associate Director Sam Zimbabwe showed preliminary data from the ongoing L Street study that showed that over the last 6 months since the cycle-track was installed, biking on L Street was up 41% (560 cyclists during the 8 hours of rush hour, up from 396).

Over the same period bicycle and pedestrian crashes on L Street were both down a trivial amount. Meanwhile, travel time by car had increased by only 1 minute across the length of the cycletrack in the morning and by no measurable amount in the afternoon commute (using data after construction on Connecticut Avenue was complete).

They also discussed results of the completed 15th Street cycle-track showing that biking increased and that while crashes rose too, it was not by as much as biking.

Experience with L Street helps improve M Street design

They talked about lessons they learned on L street and how that influenced design on M. For example, the cycle-track will be narrower, with parking and loading zones adjacent to it. They'll put in more flexposts. And they're using a new "Yield to Bikes" sign.

Parking and loading would change very little. To deal with what lost parking there would be, they plan to take back some unused diplomatic parking spaces and replace some missing parking meters, as well as add better signage.

The schedule is to continue evaluating L Street until August and then install the tracks before the end of the summer. That process would take 3 weeks and be done in phases.

Other design features include the cycle-track diversion onto Rhode Island Avenue that may have a concrete barrier to protect cyclists from traffic.

Left turning cyclists can stop in queue areas within intersections to make a two-light turn.

The drawings included other design changes like a raised cycle track at a bus stop where the track passes behind the stop.

Angry audience comments almost derail the meeting

Before DDOT could discuss these things, the meeting got very heated. At one point, Zimbabwe threatened to end the meeting if people continued to be disrespectful with one another.

It started with a woman who asked why DDOT was going ahead with the M Street lane if the L street study wasn't complete. M Street, she was told, is a complement to L, so any study of L is incomplete without M. Originally they were to be built simultaneously.

But she was clearly opposed to the project regardless, she said with exasperation that "L didn't work," claiming that no one ever used it (despite the presentation she just saw showing that there were several hundred users each rush hour) and that traffic was a disaster. Why were we spending money on bike lanes when libraries are closing? She called the design confusing and asked who this lane is for.

But that was just the appetizer. Many members and leaders of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church were there and they were not happy about the cycle track or the way DDOT had informed them about it.

"When slaves built our church, they were not thinking about bike lanes," is how the first comment started.

There were many criticisms, some of them contradictory. No one rides on M Street. Senior citizens won't be able to cross the street to get to church because cyclists never yield to pedestrians (only a problem if people actually do bike on M). Senior citizens rely on the church for transportation. Other M Street businesses are not pleased either. The bike lane on the north side will block funeral access. "What percentage of taxpayer money is going to this?"

When asked if this was a done deal, Zimbabwe said it was and it wasn't. That there was going to be a cycle track on M, but what it would look like was still negotiable. Speakers proceeded to throw the "done deal" comment, which wasn't his wording, back at him several times. But he stuck to his guns. When asked if the debate was over, he said "for this street, yes." When asked if the 1500 block could be left out of the plans, he said that it would have too negative an impact on people trying to bike the road.

But the biggest issues were that the church would lose its angled parking on Sundays (which took them 3 years to get) and that no one talked to them about it until the day before.

A pastor for the church talked about the church's 175 year history, 87 of those years at this location. She noted that this church is tied to the struggles of the African-American people, so to not hear about something like this until after it was a "done deal" is very disturbing and insulting. The church had been offered $1 million to move out of the city in the past, but they had made a commitment to stay. Many of their members had moved to the counties but still made an effort to come to church here. "Is DC becoming a church-unfriendly place?" she asked.

On the first issue, DDOT created several alternatives for Sundays that would still allow 30-50 parking spaces, even one with angled parking and several that allowed parking in the cycletrack (which would shift in between two lanes of car parking) and promised to work on it with the church.

On the second issue, Jim Sebastian apologized and noted that he had met with church staff at the church in 2011. At least one person accused him of lying. Sebastian said he could pull the phone and email logs if needed. He also noted that they had started this process in 2009 with public meetings, and that DDOT staff have met with ANC's, BIDs, groups and individuals. He said they tried to reach the church, a comment that brought scoffs from the church's members.

I'll add that anyone on M Street who didn't know about this has not been paying attention. While I don't expect anyone to have read the 2005 Bicycle Master Plan, the addition of a cycle track on M Street has been reported in the Washington Post many times. In fact it's been mentioned in numerous news outlets on many many occasions over many years. DDOT has had meetings and press releases. It's not been kept a secret. That no one in the church had ever heard about it until this week seems incredible.

Zimbabwe tried to address all the concerns. The M Street lane would have better signage. DC does not intend to be church-unfriendly. There is no "rush" to complete this, but DDOT wants to make people safe now, not later. They're willing to work with the church to resolve its issues.

He could have mentioned that in many cases funding for bike lanes can't be moved over to libraries.

When one woman talked about how important biking was for our future, someone asked her "Do you expect senior citizens to bike." "Yes," I thought, "many already do now." In fact many senior citizens in the church had prefaced their comments with "I'm a cyclist."

Another speaker, opposed to the bike lane, asked "Who wants this?" and many hands shot up followed by applause.

"We're not taking a vote here or pitting one side against another," Zimbabwe said.

A restaurant/bar owner on M Street said that the street is already girdlocked (despite DDOT data presented earlier saying otherwise) and that eliminating a traffic lane was going to be a disaster for drivers and for his business. "I did find one friend who rides a bike and he says he'll never use it," he added, while noting that gridlock causes pollution and that snow removal is a problem as well. "Every merchant on M Street is concerned and in disbelief about this."

Zimbabwe pointed out that this is to get new riders to use bikes. Many tried to point to data in NYC showing that cycle tracks are good for business. One person thanked DDOT for putting the cycle track on L and opening her eyes to all the great businesses there.

A Georgetown ANC member took the opportunity to berate DDOT for not doing something about all the unsafe cyclists disregarding traffic laws. "It's a miracle that no one has been hurt," he noted, without realizing he was contradicting his whole position.

Finally, someone asked, "can't bike lanes go in AND angled parking be kept? Why does it have to be either/or?"

Zimbabwe promised to find a way to address the parking needs of church goers.

And they do have a plan for that. Below you can see Sunday parking on the bike lane as one alternative.

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David Cranor is an operations engineer. A former Peace Corps Volunteer and former Texan (where he wrote for the Daily Texan), he's lived in the DC area since 1997. David is a cycling advocate who serves on the Bicycle Advisory Committee for DC.  

Comments

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This should be interesting.

by spookiness on May 16, 2013 10:28 am • linkreport

Kind of makes you wonder what the point of these public meetings are if people never pay attention to what has been or is being said.

That said, lol at most of the comments.

by drumz on May 16, 2013 10:39 am • linkreport

Glad to see the are recogonizing the L st lane was too wide.

Another issue I have with L st is at intersections with left turns --you've got a strange angle to get back into the bike lane. A bit hard to describe, but perhaps keeping parked cars will help.

DDOT needs to address parking in the west end because it is becoming a disaster.

by charlie on May 16, 2013 10:45 am • linkreport

I think Sunday parking in the bike lane is fine. I suspect this will mostly be a weekday commuting lane for most people.

by ust on May 16, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

I think these complainers have a different definition of "gridlock" than the rest of us - their definition seems to be "I have to wait at a light = gridlock."

by MLD on May 16, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

Churches and bike lanes. Surely this must be the third-rail of local politics.

by andrew on May 16, 2013 10:53 am • linkreport

I disagree that L is too wide. It is not. It's wide enough to pass someone and not feel like each rider has to hold a perfect line. We've had zero enforcement to keep people out of it...and the bare minimum of flexible bollards (which are already in poor shape from being hit/removed by drivers) to reinforce that they don't belong there. It's quite common to see one or more cars enter the lane well before the actual mixing zone in an attempt to get 4 cars farther ahead. I guess what I'm saying is; Can we please get some of those extra bollards on L right now?

Also Re: L St. There has been near constant construction both on and around Connecticut for months. Even within the last week between CVS and the Subway there were crews working on the road. I'm not sure I'd pay that much attention to the 1 minute delay in auto traffic in the morning at this point. I say it needs time to get a better measure. My guess is it goes down.

I'd be surprised if, in a couple of years, there aren't more cyclists stopped at each block than there are folks in autos.

Finally...you know it's going to be a long night when slavery is brought up so early.

by thump on May 16, 2013 10:56 am • linkreport

I know churches don't have to pay property taxes. But maybe if churches did, they should have more say in the city services (free parking) they demand. Their building is assessed at $21M, and according to the payments they pay zero.

by ERD on May 16, 2013 10:57 am • linkreport

let's give every member of the church a free cabi membership for a year.

i'm not sure what that would accomplish, but sounds fun.

by guest1 on May 16, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

I'm intrigued by the two-light turn box, although I predict it will be rarely if ever used. The last thing a cyclist wants to do is to be sitting motionless in an intersection.

For the alternative of having the bike lane be used for parking on Sundays, I'm against that idea. I don't want any drivers thinking it is ever okay to be in the bike lane. There's enough of a problem with that on L Street.

by bobco85 on May 16, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

I think it all relates back to the underlying issue that seems to be an undercurrent in all of the District's politics: the old guard vs. the new. Gentrification, bike lanes, height restrictions, ethics reform, job training - everything always seems to be viewed through a prism of us vs. them. Anything perceived as supporting new city residents/millennials/progressives/etc must be stopped. Anything that is perceived as taking away th African American community's power/privileges must be stopped, regardless of the underlying merit or motivation of the issue.

It's depressing.

by Adam on May 16, 2013 11:04 am • linkreport

Why should DDOT listen to anything these people, who admit they are mostly non-residents, have to say? If I went to a public hearing in Lanham to complain about a Prince George's County transportation project would anyone there care what I say?

by Stanton Park on May 16, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

A lot of downtown garages must be empty on Sundays. Maybe the District could rent them a block of garage space (free or discounted) - with a sunset provision of some kind (fewer spaces each year, or smaller discounts each year).

I also like the idea of giving them free CaBi memberships.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 16, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

Stanton Park, I bike though PG County on my way to work, but live in DC. When I've gone to meetings in PG County, they never given me any sense that my input was less welcome or valid because of my home address.

by David C on May 16, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

One person in one car or SUV
That's what creates gridlock. Not bikes or pedestrians, or anyone else: Single occupancy cars and lots of them at one time. I'm glad they're finally putting a bike lane on M Street. And I can't believe these parishioners are invoking slavery in opposition to bike lanes. Seriously?

by dc denizen on May 16, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

A pastor for the church talked about the church's 175 year history, 87 of those years at this location. The church was built in 1886, so it's 127 years. Still pretty much irrelevant, though. No one was parking cars in front of the church when it was built.

by jimble on May 16, 2013 11:22 am • linkreport

"When slaves built our church, they were not thinking about bike lanes"

Considering the current Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church building was constructed in 1886, I'm having a hard time believing it was built by slaves. But why let the facts get in the way of a good frothing lather...

by Dizzy on May 16, 2013 11:22 am • linkreport

AWIC@11:11
The church I used to attend had an arrangement with nearby office buildings exactly as you describe. Its probably common. In any case I guess some people probably would still stew since they can't get a parking spot directly in front of the church door.

by spookiness on May 16, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

The Park however and wherever you want and Sundays for the Churches drives me up a wall. When I try to ride my bike on sundays (or drive if the case desires) it's a nightmare to try to get around as lanes and half lanes are taken all over the place.

What if the DC government said, "well a lot of people are trying to drive into the city on Saturday nights so we're just going to suspend parking rules for a couple of hours to accommodate everyone." People would flip!

And before people say that's not a fair comparison. It actually is, some people get fulfillment from going to a specific church on Sundays. I get fulfillment from going to specific bars on Saturdays. Yes the one may make me more of a heathen but it's really no different.

by jj on May 16, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

I think they were referring to the Church as an entity, not the building. "The congregation was founded in 1838 and the current building was constructed in 1886."

by David C on May 16, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

It is actually more likely they were parking bikes when the church was founded.

by William on May 16, 2013 11:25 am • linkreport

There should have been representation from the major employers who rent space downtown (or the property managers or building owners) at this meeting. Like maybe someone from the downtown BID.

The biggest users of the bike lane will be people commuting to office buildings downtown and one would think the law firms, lobbyists, thinktanks, etc. would be doing something to make commuting to their place of work (which they pay top dollar to rent) easier. BIDs should be about more than just keeping the streets free of litter. They should be engaging on important issues to make their districts more business-friendly by increasing transportation options.

It sounds like the only business representation at this meeting was from small-time merchants when the vast majority of space downtown is occupied by offices.

by Falls Church on May 16, 2013 11:29 am • linkreport

So these parishioners, who don't live in DC, whose church is exempt from tax, and who get special parking privileges, want to prevent DDOT from making life easier for residents of the District every day of the week so they don't have a potential inconvenience on Sunday morning?

How nice they had the opportunity to move to Prince George's but decided to stay in DC to help us poor, wretched District residents? I guess we should thank them for trying to protect us from the evils of bike lanes. I'm sure Jesus would be appalled at the way the authorities are mistreating those downtrodden drivers who only want a free and convenient place to park their SUVs. Then they have the gall to bring up slavery? Never mind that Sam Zimbabwe's master is African-American. This is the same mentality that keeps re-electing Marion Barry and wonders why economic development is so stunted in Ward 8.

David C - I'm glad that you have had good experiences with officials in Prince George's. My experience has not been the same.

by Stanton Park on May 16, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

"I'm intrigued by the two-light turn box, although I predict it will be rarely if ever used. The last thing a cyclist wants to do is to be sitting motionless in an intersection."

This x 1000. As a pedestrian, I've been rammed into and knocked over by a cyclist running a red. As a driver, I've seen cyclists hit because they decided the stop sign doesn't apply to them. When I do use my Cabi membership, I stop for stop signs and I stop for reds. I believe my life and the life of any random pedestrian is worth more than the extra effort required to peddle back up to speed, but based on the behaviour of cyclists in DC, I think I'm in a very, very small minority (c.f.: Ideal Cyclist article/rant a few weeks ago).

I'd love to see the usage data on this to be proven wrong, but I suspect somehow, the data is going to show the box is not being used. Which is sad.

by Alternatives on May 16, 2013 11:42 am • linkreport

Alternatives-I share your perspective as someone who walks a ton, uses CalBi a lot, and drives infrequently in a car that I own and park on DC streets. Cyclists realize and recognize that cars don't like them, and often cars are the ones in the wrong who don't understand sharing the road, but they seem clueless that pedestrians hate scofflaw cyclists just as much, and careless cyclists can seriously injure and kill pedestrians just as careless drivers can kill cyclists and pedestrians. Lot of the complaints you hear from "old guard" folks are actually coming from their perspectives as a pedestrian not as a driver.

by Mony on May 16, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

Sam Zimbabwe is a saint.

by jason on May 16, 2013 11:50 am • linkreport

I think formalizing the back-in parking on Sundays is a great compromise, as shown in that last graphic. Traffic is much lighter on Sundays, so I don't think I would have any issues biking in the regular travel lane. Also it's only one block, right?

The garage that is right next to the church is not open on Sundays. That is unfortunate.

by MLD on May 16, 2013 11:52 am • linkreport

It is a bad idea to let them ever park in the bike lane. Ever. It just sets bad precedent and adds confusion.

by guest1 on May 16, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

The mention of gridlock in this context brings up an interesting discussion. I'd love to see a study performed on the potential for increased pollution, as a result of these "traffic calming" projects across town, such as what was done on Wisconsin Avenue north of Georgetown, and in Columbia Heights around DCUSA. As anyone who drives in these areas knows, they are in gridlock during much of the day.

by Ron on May 16, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

According to a few people I talked to after the meeting, the church's issue with using a garage is that it's too far to walk for their senior members. That sounds like a good situation for valet parking.

They also mentioned that reducing M Street to one lane wouldn't work on Sundays because of their passenger pickup/dropoff activities. I suggested that they get a designated loading area, but they claim they already have one. I didn't say it, but my follow up to that is why don't they do their loading in the loading area?

It's the same way with the valet operations in the 1800 block of M Street - just pay the fee to get a loading area big enough to actually do loading in instead assuming you're going to get to keep 2 lanes of loading activity and then whining to DDOT about how they're reducing capacity too much.

by Peter K on May 16, 2013 12:10 pm • linkreport

"I'm intrigued by the two-light turn box, although I predict it will be rarely if ever used. The last thing a cyclist wants to do is to be sitting motionless in an intersection."

As a sometimes pedestrian, cyclist, and driver, it's hard for me to imagine anyone in any of these categories who would voluntarily choose an intersection option that involved waiting through two light cycles, unless the cycles are 10 seconds long. Has such a design worked elsewhere? And even if it has, is it likely to work in a place where people are generally in such a hurry that many (including myself) walk up escalators to get to the top faster?

by Black Jack on May 16, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

The two-light cycle box is just optional, you can still move into the left-hand lane to make a turn normally. Some people will probably use it.

The church does have a loading/entrance zone in directly in front of the church. They use it for back in parking on Sundays.

Also, are there other churches/users that do valet parking on Sundays? What is the agreement with the garage like? Do they pay the normal for DC - e.g. you parked here for an hour so it's $10? I don't think you're gonna see many people take that up when there is zero enforcement.

by MLD on May 16, 2013 12:22 pm • linkreport

Are these senior citizens driving themselves or are driving with their family or neighbors? Are there no able bodied church goers who can park cars for the older ones in need? Where is the community here?

by guest1 on May 16, 2013 12:24 pm • linkreport

Were slaves thinking of car lanes when they built the church? If they are interested in historical accuracy it should be horse/ped/bike only I guess?

by Alan B. on May 16, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

Has such a design worked elsewhere?

This is how the Dutch do it. It's not really two lights all the time. What they do is they ride through the first light and move to the right and then queue up in front of the traffic on the far side. When the other light changes they go forward with traffic - ta da, a left turn.

by David C on May 16, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

I also particularly enjoyed this:

A Georgetown ANC member took the opportunity to berate DDOT for not doing something about all the unsafe cyclists disregarding traffic laws. "It's a miracle that no one has been hurt," he noted, without realizing he was contradicting his whole position.

I wonder which one it could be! There are some many potential candidates to choose from...

by Dizzy on May 16, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

So these parishioners, who don't live in DC, whose church is exempt from tax, and who get special parking privileges, want to prevent DDOT from making life easier for residents of the District every day of the week so they don't have a potential inconvenience on Sunday morning?

I was going to write almost exactly this.

by dcd on May 16, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

@Mony:

The fundamental problem with DC is aggressiveness. We have aggressive drivers, aggressive bus drivers, aggressive taxi drivers, aggressive cyclists and aggressive pedestrians. Even the Segway riders are aggressive - just try to get ahead of them when walking and they'll lean forward to cut you off. I don't know if it's a trait particular to the DC area, as NYC often seems the same way, but I have to take a deep breath before going anywhere, regardless of mode to zen out and not get infected by it.

by Alternatives on May 16, 2013 12:44 pm • linkreport

If I were an impish person by nature I would love to perform the following experiment:

- Observe the time at which parishioners of a downtown church generally arrive and begin angled in parking on a Sunday morning
- Organize a large group of friends to park their cars in angled fashion along the block(s) in front of said church 30 minutes prior to their customary arrival

I wonder what arguments would be put forth by parishioners during the outrage that would surely ensue. It would at least clear up claims and counterclaims of privilege and legality when the shoe is on the other foot.

by bloomie_res on May 16, 2013 12:51 pm • linkreport

@Bloomie_res

That would be terrific. Easier still would be to get a few school busses, or a flat bed tractor and park it right there. That would be tremendous to see the reaction and the entitlement on full display.

by Kyle-W on May 16, 2013 1:04 pm • linkreport

Odds are the Lords name would be taken in vain, a lot.

by Alan B. on May 16, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

"I'm intrigued by the two-light turn box, although I predict it will be rarely if ever used. The last thing a cyclist wants to do is to be sitting motionless in an intersection."

Quoting myself here, but I should clarify that I mean that cyclists (including myself) will not want to use the turn box because they would be sitting in a seemingly exposed position in the middle of an intersection. Without any more separation than just a coating of paint, it will feel exposed and dangerous to be sitting in that box. I like the idea behind it, but not how it's currently being presented.

by bobco85 on May 16, 2013 1:16 pm • linkreport

@Bloomie-res: Sign me up. I'd happily participate.

Along similar lines, the parishoners at the church on my street park - with impunity - in the restricted zone when someone (properly) posts no-parking signs in anticipation of a moving truck, furniture delivery, what-have-you. They feel no compunction, however, blocking off half the street with orange cones on Sunday morning to reserve parking, and heaven forbid someone parks in a reserved funeral spot (which absolutely is an assholish thing to do).

by dcd on May 16, 2013 1:16 pm • linkreport

@dcd I have no compunction moving those cones and parking there. What are they going to do, call the cops? I wish!

by Distantantennas on May 16, 2013 1:39 pm • linkreport

I'd call for some perspective here. The District seems to have a handle on a design that preserves the bike lane in general and accomodates the angled church parking. It's a few hours once a week, at one of the times when the bike lanes would be lightly used anyway.

Pick your battles intelligently.

by Crickey7 on May 16, 2013 1:45 pm • linkreport

@Distantantennas and @dcd ... actually, the once or twice i've been chased down the street, I told them I already called the police.. all I was doing was removing a dangerous street obstruction.

by guest1 on May 16, 2013 1:49 pm • linkreport

My grandmother used to say that betting is a tax on BS, and I wanted to badly to bet the bar owner that M would not be gridlocked after the cycle-track was installed. If it was, cyclists would agree to come and drink like crazy one night. If it wasn't they'd agree to come and drink like crazy one night. Difference is, in the second scenario, he picks up the tab.

by David C on May 16, 2013 1:58 pm • linkreport

Don't tell anyone but M Street is actually a lot of fun to bike down the way it is right now. Still, it is going to take bike lanes to encourage more people to make the leap from traditional transportation. The out-of-town church people get an unfair shake on GGW sometimes, but in this case they are being a little bit unreasonable if they want the whole city to stop to accommodate them.

by aaa on May 16, 2013 2:55 pm • linkreport

@davidC; Was there any discussion of the nh and m intersection

by Charlie on May 16, 2013 3:17 pm • linkreport

Charlie, not much.

by David C on May 16, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

Can anyone who attended explain how the back-in parking works if this is intended to be a cycletrack? That is, will there not be flex posts in this block that would make it impossible for cars to park there? Having a hole in the corridor of cycletrack where it's just a colored bike seems like a poor choice.

by JZ on May 16, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

I really do laugh when people try to play up hilarious things like “It was a huge increase in cyclists, 41%!!)

A large increase of a really small number, is still a small number. To try to sit amongst people at a public forum and try to claim that the L Street lane was so successful when it gets a “Whopping 70 bikers an hour) during rush hour is just plain comedy.

Then to simultaneously “poo-poo” the cumulative effect on traffic, each trip taking an extra minute.

According to DDOT, that stretch of L street sees 14,100 vehicles per day. Those 14,100 vehicles had 4 lanes previously, now the same traffic is squeezed into 3 (during rush) which has a cumulative loss of 233 hours per day, on that one street.

Basically, each remaining traffic lane sees 3 to 5 times the number of trips by car, that the bike lane sees by bike.

We all knew it anecdotally. How many people have posted here that they never see anyone using the L street bike lane? Quite a few. DDOT just did us the favor of proving it. It makes zero sense to take such a lane that is so heavily used by one mode, and give it to another that barely uses it. It is the height of inefficiency and ridiculousness. Add in the fact that it was poorly designed to boot and has incredibly unsafe shared turning lanes etc, and you have yet another “DDOT Special” on your hands.

by Wells on May 16, 2013 4:43 pm • linkreport

How many people have posted here that they never see anyone using the L street bike lane?

Every time I step out side the office I see someone on a bike using the lane. My anecdote cancels out your anecdote.

by drumz on May 16, 2013 4:49 pm • linkreport

If they allow parking spaces in the track on sundays, won't people see them and park there either knowingly, without care or obliviously because they see parking spaces?

by Milk on May 16, 2013 4:54 pm • linkreport

@Drumz,

No anecdotes needed. DDOT did us the favor of quantifying it. 70 bikes an hour during rush. Wow.

What does that translate into non rush? 15-20?

by Wells on May 16, 2013 4:55 pm • linkreport

"No one bikes" or "Bikes are always getting in the way of my car". Seems like it would have to be one or the other to me.

by Alan B. on May 16, 2013 4:57 pm • linkreport

. It makes zero sense to take such a lane that is so heavily used by one mode, and give it to another that barely uses it.

It does if your goal is to get more people biking, and adding lanes gets more people biking, and the effect on the other users of the lane is negligible.

by MLD on May 16, 2013 5:05 pm • linkreport

@Wells - According to DDOT, that stretch of L street sees 14,100 vehicles per day. Those 14,100 vehicles had 4 lanes previously, now the same traffic is squeezed into 3 (during rush) which has a cumulative loss of 233 hours per day, on that one street.

Except that travel time increased by 1 minute in morning rush, and no measurable time during the afternoon rush. If you want to calculate a real number, you'd need the amount of vehicles traveling during morning rush only, not the whole day. Even if your numbers were at all significant, they're off.

by worthing on May 16, 2013 6:31 pm • linkreport

Oh, lordy.

Vancouver tried an arrangement whereby the bike lane shifted in response to rush-hour parking restrictions, but it (and the restrictions) were abandoned due to poor compliance and confusion. I suppose that there are already plenty of Sunday morning exceptions to parking rules, but that sets a really poor precedent.

Since when have *drivers* ever been bigger bar patrons than bicyclists?

by Payton on May 16, 2013 6:33 pm • linkreport

70 people an hour during the height of rush hour in the heart of DC is called success?

What is DDOT smoking cause it is obviously quality stuff

by Loading Dock on May 16, 2013 6:51 pm • linkreport

The numbers do seem a bit puny. Granted that the city is built for cars, so it is an uphill battle for people to bike, and a very long-term investment. But still surprisingly low.

"biking on L Street was up 41% (560 cyclists during the 8 hours of rush hour, up from 396)."

So divide by 8 ... and that's 70 per hour, up from 49.5 per hour previously.

by 20816 on May 16, 2013 7:37 pm • linkreport

Wells,

1. the cycletrack is still relatively new and it has been in place mostly during the least bike friendly months. It is likely that use will continue to increase at a high rate in the months and years ahead. Use of 15th is still going up.

2. We're building a city for the next 10 years, not for today and today only. Biking is taking a larger mode share every year, whereas driving is taking less and less.

3. In general traffic congestion always gets worse downtown. It's likely the road would move slower even without the bike lane. There are just more people trying to get around.

4. And then +1 worthing, your numbers are total junk.

by David C on May 16, 2013 11:17 pm • linkreport

@David C,

You will have to do better than "your numbers are junk. I sourced my numbers, both conviently from DDOT, one from your posting above. Pray tell which of my numbers are junk and why. Reference your source data.

by Wells on May 16, 2013 11:22 pm • linkreport

@wells see comment by worthing on May 16, 2013 6:31 pm for the reason as to why your numbers are junk.

In other words, only rush hour trips take longer. The trip at 2am takes the same amount of time as it did before. So you are not adding 14,100 minutes of travel time, because not all 14,100 vehicles travel during rush hour.

by guest1 on May 16, 2013 11:27 pm • linkreport

I am quite aware that not all trip minutes are rush hour minutes, I was makin a very clear counter argument to the intentional down playing of the added time due to the land reduction. Clearly that went completely over your head.

Point is, after all the supposed study and after all the handwringing by the cyclist set, we have an incredibly poorly designed bike lane that services an embarrassing 70 people an hour during the height of use, up from 50 an hour. It is an embarrassing waste of money and time, the result of which has increased congestion and trip times totaling tens o thousands of hours a year on ONE street, all so 70 people an hour can use a poorly designed bike lane, during rush, and during nice weather.

by Wells on May 16, 2013 11:41 pm • linkreport

I was makin a very clear counter argument to the intentional down playing of the added time due to the land reduction.

But your argument is factually incorrect for the reasons worthing mentioned.

Let me make a counterpoint to your counterpoint, since fudging numbers is kosher. There are 14,100 vehicles that use that road every day, divided by 24 hours a day, that comes out to 587.5 per hour across three lanes or 196 per lane per hour. So an increase of 20 vehicles per hour is pretty sizeable on that scale. It would be 10% more in the auto lanes.

by David C on May 16, 2013 11:59 pm • linkreport

"After all the supposed study and after all the handwringing by the transit set, we have an incredibly poorly designed subway that services an embarrassing 1,400 people an hour. It is an embarrassing waste of money and time, the result of which has ELIMINATED the possibility of travel on MULTIPLE streets, all so 19,000 people a day can use a poorly designed train system."

-- Some short-sighted person in 1976

by West Egg on May 17, 2013 12:00 am • linkreport

An extra minute during high-congestion periods shouldn't really offend anybody's sensibilities. Thru-drivers are rather minor stakeholders in the actual cycle track corridor. The drivers just want to get through as fast as possible- but the members of the actual communities abutting the cycle track are the most obvious candidates for actually using and being enriched by it. Not just now but as the city continues to develop in the future.

by LHomonacionale on May 17, 2013 12:37 am • linkreport

Parking was the top issue in a survey of our church members, NYAPC, so we rent a garage on Sunday.

by Carol Casperson on May 17, 2013 6:27 am • linkreport

70 people an hour during the height of rush hour in the heart of DC is called success?

70 people an hour using a cycletrack that was just put in, hasn't had a full biking season for people to understand and use, and doesn't have a similar option for returning in the opposite direction? Yes I would call that a success.

People also seem to forget that the city's explicit goal is to reduce car trips and increase transit, biking, and walking trips. That's because the city can accommodate many more trips and much more economic activity if they put more of them on transit, bikes and foot. You can only accomplish that by making transit, biking, and walking more convenient and improved infrastructure is how you do it.

by MLD on May 17, 2013 8:17 am • linkreport

LHomonacionale-
Problem is (speaking as a huge fan of the L Street/15th and now M Street bike lanes, I literally hadn't ridden a non-stationary bike in 10 years until these were installed) that the pedestrians and office workers (save the bicyclists) who make up these communities are not really happy with these lanes too, as it forces them to be more vigilant as pedestrians, causes them delays to get into garages and makes it harder to grab a cab.

by Mony on May 17, 2013 8:19 am • linkreport

Many of their members had moved to the counties but still made an effort to come to church here. "Is DC becoming a church-unfriendly place?" she asked.

I'm curious: what is the exact percentage of non-resident church members? It's one thing for DC residents to demand special treatment because they've "been here longer". I disagree with it, but I can understand the sense of entitlement.

It's something entirely different for people to leave the city, defund the city's social safety net & infrastructure accounts, and *still* demand special treatment. Churches point to to all the good works they do in the community, but that doesn't even make up a fraction of the amount of good that the city could do with tax revenue it loses due to the church exemption.

by oboe on May 17, 2013 8:27 am • linkreport

@Carol Casperson
Parking was the top issue in a survey of our church members, NYAPC, so we rent a garage on Sunday.

Thanks for the info, Carol. Seems like this church could do something similar with the garage right next door.

by MLD on May 17, 2013 8:34 am • linkreport

Thanks for the info, Carol. Seems like this church could do something similar with the garage right next door.

It's the obvious solution, but the parishoners likely will get hung up on one word - "rent." When you've been provided a free benefit for so long, and the city has gone so far as to waive enforcement of parking rules so as to provide you that benefit, the sense of entitlement becomes quite fierce, and actually paying for something tends to be a non-starter.

by dcd on May 17, 2013 9:01 am • linkreport

Apparently GGW readers did not pay attention in Sunday School:

From the book of Ford:
2:13: Though thou may be forced to drive and stop at a traffic light, you shall bring down the wrath of your Lord and fight thine enemy The Biker. Any of my flock who right two wheeled vehicles in major cities shall have my wrath.

And, don't forget, From the Book of Mazda:
4:18: Shall ye set aside one 5th of thy roadways to two wheeled people carriers you shall feel the power of the Lord. On Day 1: I shall bring upon the bikers locusts, on Day 2: I shall bring upon the bikers horrid evil rashes. On Day 3: I will losten thy riding helmets and on Day 4: I shall take the front tire of every first born commuter who refuses to pollute the air around thy houses of worship.

In other words, My invisible friend of 500 years puts priority on automobiles instead of biking to church. Sometimes non-believers are so confused.

by Mike on May 17, 2013 9:11 am • linkreport

actually, its forbidden to drive on the sabbath day. It IS allowed to bike, but only according to more lenient authorities, and only under certain conditions.

Of course Sunday is not the sabbath day.

by JewdiciarySquare on May 17, 2013 9:19 am • linkreport

@David C,

Then you tell us a legitimate percentage of the total daily usage of L street that occurs during the 4 hours of rush? Please, do tell, you seem to have all the answers.

Is it 50% of the gross daily usage that happens during that 8 hours? 75%? Assign any number you like.

@MLD

Just put in? Its been open for ~6 months, the last 2 have been unseasonably perfect for biking.

But lets take a look at DC's "most successful" and according to DDOT, heavily used cycle facility, the 15th street track. 2 years after installation usage had crested at 180 bikes per hour, tripling from 60 an hour two years prior when there was no facility. Gee..3 times is a lot right? No, as was said, a huge percentage increase of a small number, is still a small number.

Assuming L street matches the most succesful bike facility in the city, it will see 150 bikes per hour during rush, or a little less than 3 per minute. This is ofcourse only during nice weather as the cabi dashboard gives us a nice reference of how drastically cycling as a mode of transportation falls off for the winter months of the year.

All in all, a pretty hilarious failure.

by Wells on May 17, 2013 9:25 am • linkreport

I kind of get it, my wife and I attend church in the suburbs because we like the community and is a chance to see many friends.

Then again, if the church decided to replace all the parking with something and shuttle the parishioners from a remote site I'd be fine with that. I don't consider parking intrinsic to my communal worship experience.

And if Fairfax county wants to put a protected cycle track up and down the length of Braddock Road I'd also be happy. (The side path along the route is alright for most of the road though).

by drumz on May 17, 2013 9:39 am • linkreport

So let's see.... we want our street parking too AND we want discounts at malls like DC USA that secular governments built with secular tax money. No wonder people resent churches.... they want it all... and when they don't get it... Just double park and damn the residents.

by Mike on May 17, 2013 9:42 am • linkreport

Wells

1. Bike commuting is also concentrated at rush hour, so at those times its probably more heavily used.

2. The percentage of bike commuters who are DC residents is undoubtedly much higher than the percentage of auto commuters who are DC residents. Latest data suggest barely a third of DC residents commute by auto, and that includes reverse commuters to the suburbs, and intraDC commuters to parts of the district less well served by transit (and harder to bike and walk) than downtown. So its perhaps reasonable that DC prioritizes improvements that particularly benefit its own residents, who pay income and property taxes to the district.

I dont know about L street in particular, but its my sense that many drivers prefer having bike lanes on a street, as it makes it easier for them to predict where cyclists will be and where they will go. So you can't simply take the 1 minute average time loss as the total driver impact - there may be improvements to the quality of driving, that offset that. That too would need to be weighed in a comprehensive Cost Benefit Analysis.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 17, 2013 9:55 am • linkreport

@Wells: Assuming L street matches the most succesful bike facility in the city, it will see 150 bikes per hour during rush, or a little less than 3 per minute.

Assuming L Street matches what is currently the most successful bike facility in the city, yes. However, given the priority of the city to move more trips to walking and biking, and the continued investment in bicycle infrastructure throughout the city, I think it very unlikely that the 15th street's "crest" of 180 is a permanent peak. Currently, sure. Five years from now? Those numbers are going to keep going up.

I'm also not sure why you discount a tripling in usage as insignificant. What usage numbers would the bike lanes have to achieve for you to consider them successful?

by worthing on May 17, 2013 10:13 am • linkreport

I dont know about L street in particular, but its my sense that many drivers prefer having bike lanes on a street, as it makes it easier for them to predict where cyclists will be and where they will go.

Definitely. I haven't ridden a bike in a decade, but I love me some bike lanes. I don't mind cyclists who take the full travel lane (and prefer it over someone hugging the line, which can get nerve-wracking), but when it comes to urban driving, I find a good bike lane cuts down on my own "I really hope I don't accidentally kill you" stress quite a bit.

by worthing on May 17, 2013 10:19 am • linkreport

@Wells

lane that services an embarrassing 70 people an hour during the height of use, up from 50 an hour. It is an embarrassing waste of money and time, the result of which has increased congestion and trip times totaling tens o thousands of hours a year on ONE street, all so 70 people an hour can use a poorly designed bike lane, during rush, and during nice weather.

Your ridiculous cherry picking of stats is the most frustrating part here. I too can throw out numbers that fit the narrative I am looking for. At a cost of one minute per driver during rush hour, 55,000 bike trips/year are taken on a protected route through a busy city street.

See how that works? Cherry picking just invalidates your whole argument and makes you look silly.

by Kyle-w on May 17, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

Then you tell us a legitimate percentage of the total daily usage of L street that occurs during the 4 hours of rush?

I don't know and neither do you, which is why you're wrong.

a pretty hilarious failure.

Only if you define "achieving all your goals" as failure.

I'd also point out that the available data shows that the road is safer too. One could argue that one reason for adding a bike facility is traffic calming. If so, then slowing traffic down is a feature, not a bug, and that the result is fewer crashes. Which is part of the point.

by David C on May 17, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

Regarding the church parking, is there really a high demand for parking on that block of M on Sunday morning? I honestly can't remember having any issues finding parking in that general area on the occasions I've found myself there on a weekend morning.

by Potowmack on May 17, 2013 11:02 am • linkreport

@Kyle-w

By that logic, governments should not fund side streets. After all, a house with 10 hours can only get so much traffic, especially if it's a cul-de-sac.

Those biased against bicycles amaze me. Car divers feel such a sense of entitlement it's ridiculous. Do you want to compare how much space is dedicated to street parking throughout the District and how much is set aside for bike lanes. Car drivers are some of the most selfish people. Think about it... You lock yourselves into a box and isolate from the world until you get to your destination. If I have to support that with my taxes, leave my bike lane alone.

by Mike R on May 17, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

The newly arrived mostly white college educated soon-to-be-plurality is demanding too much. I want bike lanes too. I commute by bike everyday and think we need to greatly expand our biking infrastructure. However, I'm disturbed by how much this new wave of residents thinks it's owed credit for this city's ongoing boom and fever pitch development, and the level of input it affords them. While the sentiment may be true in part, there is a severe lack of respect for what remains, and what was here before.

Take a step back. A church like many other tax exempt bodies in this city often serves people and interests not connected to those neighborhoods or even this city. Anyone going to encumber National Cathedral with any unwanted Traffic projects? It is important to remember the historical significance of this church, and respect the fact that it carried out it mission - in the worst of conditions. 10, 15 years ago few of thos clamoring for change would have dared walk some of these streets in daylight. So respect their anger and frustration when it feels like bike lanes are threatening their survival. they've already faced offers to leave and many other churches have left to the suburbs. The highly charged racial language and paranoia comes from a real place. It's not about disdain for cyclists or their safety ( As the article notes, a number of the seniors are from our ranks (no doubt doing it longer too) it's about entitled newcomer transplants - or even the perception of.

The bike lane will hurt the church, and the decision is pretty much done, and according to the church withoUt much in the way of warning. And, like the new apartment buildings, fancy grocery stores, restaurants, It's an improvement And service for newcomers to enjoy, newcomers who "forced" family and friends out, and never lived in the city when it was struggling rather than booming. This is what folks feel, how far off are they? Understand where they're coming from. When you do, you might be okay with a funky Sunday bike lane

by C-ton on May 22, 2013 3:39 am • linkreport

I cannot disagree more.

-The concept of an M Street bike lane has been in the works for years. The only reason the attendees didn't know about it is because most of them live outside of the District.

-It isn't the "new" residents who are clamoring for bike lanes. Longtime residents have been working with DDOT since the late 1990's for this infrastructure.

-Longtime residents have been objecting to the preferential parking treatment of chruchgoers for decades, particularly those chrurchgoers who are not DC residents.

Ultimately, the city agencies and government are accountable to the residents who pay taxes, not the people who have an ancestoral claim to the District, but no other stake.

I don't mean to be harsh, but anyone paying attention to these issue has known about the M Street bike lane for quite some time, and quit frankly, it is offensive to suggest that new residents being demanding are to blame.

No one "forced" District residents out. People made an economic, or other choice, and in most cases "cashed out". I don't feel sorry for someone who bought a townhouse for $10,000 in 1965 only to sell it for $550,000 in 2009.

by William on May 22, 2013 6:54 am • linkreport

A call for understanding ought to go both ways. People live here, right now.
10, 15 years ago few of thos clamoring for change would have dared walk some of these streets in daylight (C-ton)
I think that probably every single person clamoring for change would have happily walked the 1500 block of M St. NW, even in the rough years of 2003 and 1998. Some people were walking those streets.

Whether they'd happily bike the 1500 block of M St. – that's another question.

by David R. on May 22, 2013 8:22 am • linkreport

Ignoring the argument about how long someone must live in a place before they can ask for anything let's talk about this statement.

So respect their anger and frustration when it feels like bike lanes are threatening their survival.

Or, you could point out that this is a false premise. They're bike lanes. On an existing street. Any "threat" they pose is made up. Parking spots may be lost sure, but they weren't the churches spots to begin with. Meanwhile, in this particular instance you have DDOT explicitly allowing people to park in the bike lane on sundays.

This bears repeating, the bike lane will not harm the church (or anyone else on M street).

by drumz on May 22, 2013 9:28 am • linkreport

"When slaves built our church, they were not thinking about bike lanes," is how the first comment started."

Obvs they were thinking about parking motor vehicles that hadn't been invented yet.

by uh-huh-yeah-right on May 22, 2013 11:31 am • linkreport

@C-ton, I have to take exception w/ YOUR assumptions:

..newly arrived..lack of respect for what remains, and what was here before. ...- in the worst of conditions. 10, 15 years ago few of those clamoring for change would have dared walk some of these streets in daylight...newcomers ...newcomers ...newcomers...never lived in the city when it was struggling rather than booming.

1) I lived in that neighborhood from 1990 (22 years ago) when i first arrived to DC as a newcomer to 2001 when i moved to another part of DC. I didn't have a car. i walked and biked and metro'd everywhere. Biking was my primary form of transportation. I was clamoring for change back then; every time some driver almost killed me I clamored for change. I was part of a block association (mixed age, gender, ethnicity, income, renters and homeowners) that looked out for each other and called the cops a lot.

2) "Forced people out"? Half the block I lived on had un-occupied houses, and there were many, many vacant unoccupied houses on all the blocks for many blocks all the way around. I challenge your assumption that anyone was forced out.

3) I moved INTO that neighborhood when church congregants were moving out. Don't lecture me about fidelity to the neighborhood. I was biking in this city and in this neighborhood 20 years ago. I want more biking infrastructure in this neighborhood and in all neighborhoods. I still commute by bike everyday.

4) I've been her now >20 years. When do i get to stop being referred to as a "newcomer"?

5) Just b/c you weren't aware of biking advocates 20 years ago doesn't mean there weren't any. I am delighted to not be such a tiny minority anymore.

by Tina on May 22, 2013 12:11 pm • linkreport

I find all these arguments that newcomers "pushed out" long time residents frankly questionable. A simple look at demographics will show you that the black population in DC started to fall (raw numbers) in between 1970-80 and it hasn't stopped since. I really don't think gentrification of DC is what led the charge on that one since the white population in DC bottomed out in the 80s as well. Suburbanization just lagged behind in the black community. People choosing to move out of state entirely were not being gentrified out except to the degree that they decided they wanted to move to suburbs. If we are going to resurrect post-Civil War history let's not ignore the last 50 years.

by Alan B. on May 22, 2013 12:54 pm • linkreport

@Alan B,

In fact, recent studies into the dynamics of gentrification suggest that a greater share of poorer residents are likely to stay in neighborhoods that gentrify than if the neighborhood had never gentrified at all, and to do better economically by doing so.

A new study by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Pittsburgh and Duke University, examined Census data from more than 15,000 neighborhoods across the U.S. in 1990 and 2000, and found that low-income non-white households did not disproportionately leave gentrifying areas. In fact, researchers found that at least one group of residents, high school–educated blacks, were actually more likely to remain in gentrifying neighborhoods than in similar neighborhoods that didn't gentrify — even increasing as a fraction of the neighborhood population, and seeing larger-than-expected gains in income.

http://ti.me/16epFdi

by oboe on May 22, 2013 1:25 pm • linkreport

As a bicyclist who was recently knocked off his bike and into Georgetown University Hospital's ER by a car (by way of the M Street pavement), I'll be very happy to see a cycle track there.

by Cris Cusack on Jul 10, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

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